Rebuilding Krusher Kovalev

By Paul Magno on October 27, 2017
Rebuilding Krusher Kovalev
“He’s scowling…I don’t want to make him mad at me…tee, hee, hee…he’s so scary.”

Only in fairy tales and in cheesy monster movies do slain beasts rise to terrorize the world once again…

Once upon a time, the boxing media fawned over Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and eagerly lapped up the promotion-friendly narrative with which the Russian had been doused. They sidestepped instance after instance of alleged racist behavior to tell the easier, lazier story of him being scary….oh so scary.

“He’s scowling…I don’t want to make him mad at me…tee, hee, hee…he’s so scary.”

Kovalev media days became acceptable places for comfortable, middle-aged men to swoon at rough trade in public. And the stories they told reflected the manly giddiness they felt. Kovalev was the Lennon to Gennady Golovkin’s McCartney in a Soviet Bloc boxing Beatles dynamic; He was the pouty, dangerous rocker to Golovkin’s smiley, dreamy crooner. It was a swell time to be Krusher.

And then Andre Ward came along.

Ward exposed Kovalev as utterly human in their first encounter and then peeled back another layer in their rematch, showing the fearsome Russian to be less than the aura built up around him.

To be fair, Ward is a stellar fighter, more than able to break down most opposition and Kovalev is/was better than most “offensive beasts,” who are usually one-dimensional freaks of nature.

Kovalev, at his best, is a surprisingly relaxed, fluid fighter with a great jab and a tremendous sense of ring space. There’s was a sense of casualness about his destructive abilities that made him extra dangerous. Kovalev’s power was steady and ready. There was no explosive burst of energy to warn of a mighty attack, there was just forward movement and then lights out.

But, still, there was a lot Kovalev had in common with other mighty beasts who terrified foes and made boxing writers tingle in their nether regions.

The bully mindset ruled Kovalev’s psyche and, by accounts of even his own (now former) trainer John David Jackson, he didn’t respond well to being pushed to his limits by Ward. Like bullies do, Kovalev lashed out at those around him and passed off blame for a poor performance and unanimous decision loss on everyone but himself. After the second loss to Ward (an eighth round TKO), Kovalev pitched a bigger fit while still sidestepping all personal responsibility.

And if the personality profile fits, Kovalev as the de-pantsed schoolyard bully will not have an easy time adjusting to a new pecking order in that schoolyard.

Historically, the boxing world is full of offensive beasts who, once tamed, never quite recover their destructive powers. With the aura of awful invincibility gone, opponents don’t enter the ring half-knocked out by opening bell and the one-time monster, himself, is just a bit slower, a bit more tentative or thoughtful about letting his hands go. There’s also the harsh reality that a once-slain monster and his team will usually have less control over who they fight the next time they enter the ring and, therefore, will not have full control over selecting the “right” types of opponents anymore.

In the case of Kovalev, specifically, he IS being set up with a good comeback opponent by HBO on November 25 as Vyacheslav Shabranskyy is neither particularly skilled nor durable. And to help matters further, the WBO has decided to make this bout for the light heavyweight title left vacant following Ward’s recent retirement.

Barring some sort of totally unthinkable occurrence, Kovalev will leave the ring that evening with the WBO belt, a decisive victory, and the gift of some distance between his present tense and back-to-back losses.

The 175 lb. class is no longer top heavy with talent, but it is now, perhaps, an overall deeper division than in 2013-2014 when Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, and Bernard Hopkins ruled the light heavy world. Sitting atop a 2017 post-Andre Ward division, by default, is a 40-year-old Adonis Stevenson, whose skills have atrophied greatly from years of soft-touch WBC title defenses. Below Stevenson, though, is a mix of technicians, stylists, and heavy-handed battlers such as Badou Jack, Sullivan Barrera, Eleider Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr., Marcus Browne, and Dmitry Bivol who will stand between Kovalev and a return to the top.

Things don’t look good for Sergey Kovalev at the moment, regardless of what he does in his upcoming bout. Efforts to rebuild the “Krusher” will have to revolve around shrewd matchmaking and a hope that the Russian can heal his bruised psyche. The WBO and HBO will likely aid Kovalev greatly in lobbing a few softballs his way, but without the ability to say that so and so is afraid of him, fan patience will run thin if he doesn’t face a real challenge soon.

A full comeback CAN happen, but it’s not likely.

Only in fairy tales and in cheesy monster movies do slain beasts rise to terrorize the world once again.

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  1. Sam Young 09:50am, 11/01/2017

    Hey Paul Magno, you must be a Leftist Liberal Democrat. Only a Leftist Liberal could lie like that. Kovalev won the 1st fight clearly 7 Rounds to 5. Actually Sergey was winning the fight going into the 8th round. Did Andre Ward foul Sergey ? Of course he did. Is Sergey Soft to the Body, I have to say yes. Does Sergey have a drinking problem, obviously he does. Do I think Sergey will be the same kind of fighter he was before ? I doubt it. Do I think you’re a Good Honest Boxing Writer ? Of course not !!! You ought to be a a Leftist Liberal Writer On Huffington Post. You have No Honesty, No Common Sense, and a Total Leftist Liberal Whack Job !!!

  2. David 04:26pm, 10/30/2017

    Ward, a stellar fighter? If he had the balls to fight Gennady Golovkin and beat him soundly, I would agree with you, but he didn’t want to come within a hundred miles of GGG. And now he’s retired. Andre Ward was nothing special and he did not beat anyone.

  3. JamesSteele 12:58am, 10/28/2017

    Paul Magno you have got to be kidding. I intensely dislike Kovalev as he truly is a big mouth villian and Andre Ward is an American hero and a gentleman but there’s 2 things that don’t enter your small and corrupted brain:
    1.) Kovalev won the first fight at a minimum 7 rounds to 5. Most had it 8-4. Only a insane person would even give him a draw but instead Ward was gifted a decision which was insane on steroids times a trillion. Kovalev should have declined a 2nd fight saying “why would i take it, i won the first fight”. I’m glad Ward won the 2nd fight beccause he outboxed Kovalev who was dumb enough to take the fight.
    2.) Kovalev in trying to goad Adonis Stevenson to fight him did indeed do something racist in a video “punching a gorilla” you know like Ali did in the pre Frazier pressers but let me ask you a question:
    Did you express outrage when Bernard Hopkins in the pre fight presser made the all time racist statement to Joe Calzaghe (and his father) that “No white boy will beat me” ??

  4. Don from Prov 04:06pm, 10/27/2017

    oh!  the humanity!!

  5. Bashar Al-Assad 02:00pm, 10/27/2017

    This screwed logic that Ward would have won anyway…. so the constant fouling doesn’t matter is so Goddamned typical of a boxing nut’s stinking thinking! Weeks screwed the pooch in this major fight, acting on Kovalev’s reaction to the nut crunching shots and not the fouls that were the cause. I’m betting that Ward thought that after those last three free nut shots, a warning was coming from Weeks and Sergey was going to get a 5 minute rest. Malignaggi called it right at ringside…..a quick stop by a ref who looked like he just couldn’t wait to do the deed for some reason, caused by blatant fouls that were ignored and officially ruled a TKO!

  6. joe giordano 01:16pm, 10/27/2017

    The low blows weakened Kovalev for sure but he never had command of the fight. Ward out boxed The Krusher.  Wards corner said all along prior to the event that Kovalev didn’t have the discipline to stop drinking. They knew his was vulnerable when attacked to the body. Everyone he fights in the future now knows where his soft spot is.

  7. Steven Stahler 12:59pm, 10/27/2017

    What a shitty article. Sounds like a jealous girl after her boyfriend dumped her. No mention of Ward getting a gift first fight and allowed to foul all night long the second.

  8. Kid Blast 12:56pm, 10/27/2017

    Prov, it’s actually a fact. Though Greek Monasteries can be very dangerous places….....

    I was in one once with “11 guys who had experience in the ring!!!”

  9. Kid Blast 11:35am, 10/27/2017

    Joe Giordano has the beat

  10. Don from Prov 11:34am, 10/27/2017

    “getting his head straight in a monastery in Greece”

    Seriously?  I sometimes don’t know when you are joking.

  11. Bashar Al-Assad 08:57am, 10/27/2017

    Not sure he is a bully….more like an asshole in this ever shrinking boxing universe….not so much a racist as just plain ignorant…..all of this magnified by the language barrier and that Margaret Hamilton nose. That right that Ward hit him with in the last round was probably the most powerful punch he ever landed…..and then he was de-pantsed alright….by three illegal blows below the belt….but it was all good because he deserved it!

  12. joe giordano 08:25am, 10/27/2017

    Agree with Kid Blast and Paul Magno.

  13. Kid Blast 07:49am, 10/27/2017

    The most prominent light heavyweight is Kovalev who returns to the ring less than six months after being taken out by pound-for-pound king Andre Ward. After supposedly getting his head straight in a monastery in Greece, “Krusher” is anxious to show that his career is not on a downward slope.

    But this is the guy to watch

    Oleksandr Gvozdyk

    Fighting out of California, “The Nail” has never met an opponent with a losing record and like many Eastern European fighters with outstanding amateur records he hit the professional road running. This 6’2” light heavyweight is 14-0 with 12 KOs and combines exceptional speed and deceptive power. He is patient, relaxed, and fluid and possesses a remarkable jab. In fact, he stole the show from his Ukrainian stablemate Vasily Lomachenko on April 8 when he put on a short but dazzling display of skill and power against the fearsome looking Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. Whether he is the next big thing depends on who and how he fights, but he bears serious attention.

  14. Kid Blast 07:43am, 10/27/2017

    “... made boxing writers tingle in their nether regions.”

    Very good. Is that like “wet underwear”?